Feeling judged and how it’s interconnected with fear of public speaking

Linda Coyle

Feeling judged and fear of public speaking

Feeling judged…this is such a common theme that comes up for people who lack confidence in speaking. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I can’t recall a single situation where it has not played some part! Even those who are more confident at speaking in public can still be challenged by this at times, particularly when stepping into a more challenging speaking situation.

Feeling judged and shame about speaking

Feeling judged is very closely linked to shame, and both are powerful feelings, and ones which cannot simply be ignored. In exploring the theme of feeling judged, I find that, like many things, the issue is not clear cut. We can be very effective and confident in some speaking situations and not in others. This can then lead to apparent contradictions within ourselves. Different scenarios I’ve encountered include:

The successful entrepreneur who comes across as confident, but is crippled inside by the thought of needing to speak to at a networking event.

The newly elected golf captain who can effectively negotiate deals at work, but is terrified of giving a speech at the annual captain’s dinner.

The project manager who can really connect with her team, but is passed over at management meetings.

The toastmaster who has won numerous competitions, given amazing, inspiring speeches, but is afraid to give an opinion at meetings.

These contradictions can add to further shame, as we feel that we should be just able to ‘get over it’. However, it’s not as simple as that. The thing is, that those reactions served a purpose in our past, to keep us safe when we needed it, but they no longer serve us well. Because these reactions are so ingrained, I find that it’s practically impossible to think our way out of it…something that many of my clients have tried before they’ve come to me. So what to do about it?

What can we do when we feel judged and shame around speaking

Well, for me, I look at two things, 1) what it feels like in the body, and 2) getting acquainted with my inner critic. In this article I’m honing in on the body piece.

So what do I mean when I say to look at what shame of feeling judged feels like in the body? It’s easy to use words to describe how we feel, but these can be deceptive, as we can simply be thinking in an abstract way about the feeling. What we need to do is get stuck into the physical experience. What does being judged or shame feel like to you? Perhaps it’s a hunching of the shoulders, a tightness in the chest, or a shaky, weak voice. Everyone has different experiences. It is not particularly pleasant to go there with these sensations, but go there we must, if we want to make lasting changes. Rather than make judgements about the feelings of shame, such as “It’s unpleasant,” instead, we can choose to be curious, “I notice a heaviness in the pit of my stomach.”

Allow yourself to feel the fear of speaking

How getting to know feelings help us to speak with confidence

As we get better acquainted with these feelings or sensations which associated with shame or feeling judged, they don’t feel quite so overwhelming. In fact, it reduces the power that they have over us. I liken it to surfing, if you’re fighting the wave, you’re on a losing battle, but if you go with it, it’s a whole lot easier, and fun (even if that does involve falling off the board, as I do quite spectacularly!) So, by allowing these sensations to be there, a transformation can happen. We become more present in ourselves, and more mindful. As a result, we can speak from a place of presence, one which comes across as passionate and confident…whether or not those physical sensations connected to feeling judged are there.

Feel the fear (in your body) and say it anyway

As we get better acquainted with these feelings or sensations, they don’t feel quite so overwhelming, and in fact, it reduces the power that they have over us. I liken it to surfing, if you’re fighting the wave, you’re on a losing battle, but if you go with it, it’s a whole lot easier, and fun (even if that does involve falling off the board, as I do quite spectacularly!) So, by allowing these sensations to be there, a transformation can happen. We become more present in ourselves, and more mindful. As a result, we can speak from a place of presence, one which comes across as passionate and confident…whether or not those physical sensations connected to feeling judged are there.

If that all sounds a bit difficult to apply, and you don’t quite know where to start, then you can access a body awareness audio file that I have on my website. It helps you to get more connected with your body, and only takes 2 minutes to listen to. Simply sign up to my mailing list and you can access that, along with other free resources.

I find it fascinating that by opening the door to our fear of speaking, we can be liberated from it. If you’d like to read more about how to overcome your fear of public speaking, check out Why just calm down is bad advice for nervous speakers.

 

This article was published by me on Linked In on 22nd May 2018.

Hate talking on the phone? You’re not alone!

Linda Coyle

Hate talking on the phone? You’re not alone!

Do you find that you’re better face to face than talking to people on the phone? Talking on the phone can be more challenging than face to face for many reasons, and some people can experience a specific phobia regarding speaking on the phone. Three key features which make phone speaking more challenging are:

You can’t see each other: We don’t get to see the other person’s facial expression, so it’s harder to read their reactions. They can’t see our facial expression or gestures, such as nodding, or eye contact.

Speech quality is reduced over the phone: This is because phones do not transmit all the sounds that are part of the human voice, particularly very low frequencies and very high frequencies. This explains why it can be easier to be misheard over the phone, and also why we find it so hard to recognise letters over the phone, and so need to pair them with words, such as using the radio alphabet, e.g. A for alpha.

The buck stops with your voice: The success of how you communicate rests solely on the sound of your voice. This can feel like a huge amount of pressure, and create stress and tension in the body. It can also be particularly challenging in an era when we can find that the mobile is used for anything but making and receiving calls! However, to flip this another way, it’s a wonderful opportunity to maximise your voice as a way to connect with others, as through our voice we can readily show warmth, connection and interest…an emoji would never come close!

If you want to improve at your phone skills, below are some tips to help you to be more successful when you speak on the phone.

 

1) Connect with your body, before you make or answer a call. Put your feet on the floor. Notice how your body is touching the chair, notice your head, notice what your arms are doing. Taking 20 seconds to slowing scan down through your body and just connect with it.

 

2) Wait before you answer or dial a number. Rather than jumping to answer the phone, let it ring a few times, and just breathe. Again, this gets you grounded and more present. The same applies before you call someone. Take a few seconds to just breathe.

 

3) Facial expression: Smile…No the person can’t see you, but smiling, will do a couple of things:

  • Helps you feel happier and more at ease (it’s very effective…try it!)
  • Help you convey warmth, a sense of connection with the other person
  • Helps your speech to be clearer, as you are likely to speak with more energy.

4) Say your name clearly. Do you ever pick up voice mails from people and you can’t get their name from it…even when you listen a few times? Our names are so familiar to us that we don’t think about how we say them, and we don’t do them justice. There’s a great Ted Talk by Laura Sicola called ‘Want to sound like a leader? Start by saying your name right.’ which is well worth watching.

5) (optional) Have a listen to this great song : by Prince, sung by Alicia Keys How come you don’t call me!

 

Do you have any tips to add? Do let me know.

If you feel you need more help at speaking with more confidence, be it on the phone or face to face, then check out my Speak with confidence services.

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© [2018] Linda Coyle, Speak Brilliantly. All rights reserved.